Hands-on Gear Review

Stanley 12 in 1 Review

Best Buy Award
Price:  $19 List | $7.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Super inexpensive with excellent pliers
Cons:  Virtually unusable screw drivers, all tools require activating pliers before deployment
Bottom line:  The Stanley 84-519K is inexpensive; the performance isn’t perfect, but it is better than you might expect from a tool at this price.
Editors' Rating:   
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Number of Functions:  12
Weight (ounces):  7.8 oz
Locking Tools?:  None
Manufacturer:   Stanley

Our Verdict

We pay close attention to the multi-tool market. We find it hard to believe that Stanley can even acquire the materials for the 84-519K for the price they sell it for. An economy of scale is a good thing, in this case, for the consumer. Stanley brings their regular tool experience and business structure to the multi-tool market. This product isn't perfect, but for the price, it is definitely worth your consideration.


RELATED REVIEW: The 14 Best Multi-Tools For The Outdoors


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter

Last Updated:
Friday
April 20, 2018

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It is hard to believe that Stanley can even acquire the materials in the not-so-cleverly-named 84-519K for the price it appears for online. This is an absolute bargain-basement product, with remarkably good construction quality for the price. Function suffers a little bit, but the construction and utility for light-duty applications are well worth the price. As a super value product, we have no problems recommending the Stanley 84-519K. Read on for what you might expect from such a purchase.

Performance Comparison


Overall the Stanley ties with the Leatherman Squirt PS4. These two products, though, are very different. The better comparison for the Stanley is to the lower-scoring Gerber Suspension (and identical twin Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate). The Stanley is a little more robust and versatile than the lower scoring Gerber tools.

The features and functions of the Best Buy Stanley.
The features and functions of the Best Buy Stanley.

Functions


We grant scores and ratings in the Function category based on both absolute number of functions and the presence of certain key functions. Our testers have found that there are a few main things that are more often used. Our ideal multi-tool, of course, has all possible features. However, people use the knife blade, pliers, bit driver, and scissors the most. Of these, the Stanley has only pliers and a knife blade. Overall, the Stanley has ten distinct functions.


The Stanley is solidly in the middle of the pack, regarding functions. It has more features than the smaller tools like the Leatherman Squirt PS4 and the Top Pick Gerber Dime. It also has more features than the Leatherman Skeletool. When it comes to dollars per function, the Stanley is impressive. For its versatility at this bare-bones price, the Stanley is unmatched. For absolute number of features, though, the more expensive tools surpass it. The Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI has way more functions than the Stanley, as does the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X.

The Phillips screwdriver works ok for light tasks  but twists itself closed under more force.
The Phillips screwdriver works ok for light tasks, but twists itself closed under more force.

Ergonomics


Multi-tool comfort and usability are functions of the handle shape, the accessibility of the tools, and the tools' position and how it relates to usability. The Stanley has slightly rounded handles that arc away from one another in pliers mode. This makes for a profile that is easy on the hands without pinching. All the other tools on the Stanley require deploying the pliers, opening the desired feature, then re-closing the pliers.

When a knife blade is accessed this way in a multi-tool, the working edge of the blade faces "into" the bulk of the handle. This means that less of the blade is usable than on a tool in which the blade is accessed from the closed pliers. We prefer multi-tools on which at least the main blade(s) can be accessed without deploying the pliers. It is both easier to deploy such a blade, and the resulting blade working edge orientation is more conducive to use.


The 84-519K and the Leatherman Crunch are the only tools we tested that have all features "inside" the pliers handle. On all the other tools we reviewed at least one function is accessible without deploying the pliers. We can forgive this with the Top Pick Crunch because the locking attribute of the pliers narrows their construction and design options. On the Stanley, it seems that only the budget design and construction philosophy has informed the choice. If that is the reason, it is perhaps worth it to you.

This is a very inexpensive tool. The more "sophisticated" tools (all much more expensive) discern themselves primarily regarding ergonomics. Pay more for something like even the other Best Buy Leatherman Wingman and you get a one-handed, one-step deployed knife blade. Even the otherwise lower scoring Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate has tools that open from outside the closed pliers handles. Only the Baladeo Locker also keeps its knife blade inside the closed pliers handles. The Baladeo has one tool that is accessible from the "outside". This tool is also unique to the Baladeo. No other product we evaluated has a corkscrew.

This is inherent in all multi tools that have accessory functions enclosed within the closed pliers. The blade loses some effectiveness and length due to the interference of the handle.
This is inherent in all multi tools that have accessory functions enclosed within the closed pliers. The blade loses some effectiveness and length due to the interference of the handle.

Portability


Portability is a function, first and foremost, of size and weight. The Stanley is similar in size to all the full-size tools. Its weight comes in right in the middle. Next, we consider carrying options. For those of you that will carry this tool loose in your pocket, the external corners are relatively smooth, but the open "skeletal" construction of the handles catches pocket lint and loose change.

The Stanley has no pocket clip for holding the tool up and out of your pocket detritus. It does, however, come with a nylon belt holster. Our team had no troubles with this, but plenty of other online reviewers experienced failure of seams under very light use. Perhaps a quality control issue at Stanley?


Of course, the smaller tools are going to score higher regarding portability. Both the tiny tools, including the Top Pick Gerber Dime score much higher. Another excellent scorer is the non-award winning, but still excellent Leatherman Skeletool CX. In many ways, the Skeletool is the portability ideal, for a full-size tool. It is light and compact (though it has fewer features than most, the features are handy) and can be carried loose in your pocket, clipped to your pocket, or clipped to a lanyard or keychain. Even the much, much larger and more feature-rich Editors Choice Leatherman Charge TTI has a pocket clip. We like this attribute. Most of our test team prefers pocket clipped carry.

Whether carried in a pocket  loose  or on your belt in the included sheath  the Stanley is fairly average in terms of portability.
Whether carried in a pocket, loose, or on your belt in the included sheath, the Stanley is fairly average in terms of portability.

Construction Quality


We are torn on our evaluation of construction quality of the 84-519K. The pliers of a budget multi-tool are often imprecise and flexible. That is not the case with the Stanley. The pliers are sturdy, tight, and carefully machined and matched. The wire cutter can cut a coat hanger handily. Stanley has literally millions of tools in use and decades of experience. This experience shows in the utility of the pliers.

However, the other attributes of the Stanley suffer. Notably, the three screwdrivers are nearly useless. There are two flat drivers and one Phillips head. The two flat drivers are both small, and similar to one another in size. The larger is still too small to grab your standard flat head screw effectively. All three of the drivers are "slippery" and flexible. When twisting screws of normal tension, the entire tool rotates with it. The Phillips head driver is particularly prone, as well, to inadvertently closing during use. Something in its geometry pushes it closed while the user is twisting a screw open.


The other ultra budget tools like the Baladeo Locker suffer some of the same drawbacks, but don't have the tight pliers of the Stanley. The Gerber Suspension has a construction quality that is roughly similar to that of the Stanley, overall. The Gerber has poorer pliers, but slightly better other tools. The good news on construction quality of the Stanley is that they offer an easy-to-use lifetime warranty, just like they do with all of their tools.

The belt loop on the Stanley sheath is located in the middle of the sheath's "height". This keeps the whole thing relatively high on your waist. Some dig this  others don't.
The belt loop on the Stanley sheath is located in the middle of the sheath's "height". This keeps the whole thing relatively high on your waist. Some dig this, others don't.

Best Applications


This is a good tool for your car or emergency kit. In sporadic use, the issues are easily forgiven. For strategic placement and subsequent occasional use, the rock-bottom price is very easily affordable.

At just under half a pound  the Stanley is about average in weight for full size tools.
At just under half a pound, the Stanley is about average in weight for full size tools.

Value


Stanley has created a tool of remarkable value. Its construction is better than some, and none are less expensive.

Conclusion


Occasional multi-tool users will shop based on price. For these, we have curated a list of three Best Buy winners. Each is a good value, but each is targeted at a different user. The Stanley is the budget option for he or she that is looking for a tool for only very occasional use. The Best Buy Leatherman Wingman is the best value in a tool that one will carry every day, everywhere. Finally, the Leatherman Wave is for the professional laborer, on a budget.
Jediah Porter

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Most recent review: April 20, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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